Qwest gets OK for Salt Lake City contract

Qwest Communications International Inc. has been cleared to begin work on a $150 million telecommunications contract to provide local telephone services to federal agencies in the Salt Lake City area.

Qwest of Denver won the General Services Administration Metropolitan Area Acquisition contract in July, but the award was held up because of a protest filed by XO Communications Inc. of Reston, Va.

XO protested the award because the GSA contracting officer for the Salt Lake City MAA had already determined XO's "unsatisfactory and deteriorating financial condition" rendered the company nonresponsible, according to the GAO report. The judgment on XO's weak financial position was reached before the company filed for bankruptcy protection in June.

The General Accounting Office in October denied XO's protest and allowed the award to Qwest to stand. The contract includes four one-year options and is worth about $150 million, according to the market research firm Input Inc., based in Chantilly, Va.

"This is our sixth MAA contract award, the most of any incumbent local exchange carrier, and we will continually expand our presence in the federal marketplace," said James Payne, senior vice president of Qwest Government Systems Division.

Qwest reported revenue of $19.7 billion in fiscal 2001, according to Hoover's, an online business information service.

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